Last year I published my first income report showing a breakdown of my different sources of income for the tax year.
I love reading income reports from other creators. I love seeing what different streams of revenue they have, which ones are working best for them and how their focus has changed over the years. So now that I have my own LLC, I’m going to be sharing these annually to show you how my business is (hopefully) growing.
Just like last year, this report shows you my earning categories as percentages of my total income for the year rather than the pure £ amounts. I do believe in the value of talking about how much you earn and how much to charge clients, but for right now this is a discussion I prefer to have with the people I know and trust (no offence, dear internet stranger, I’m sure you’re a wonderful person). To give you a rough frame of reference however: this was the first year where my annual gross income reached six figures.
Since this is my second year creating this report, I’ve been able to compare and contrast my earnings from 2018 to those I reported in 2017. It’s been really interesting for me to put this together and see what’s changed, and I hope you’ll find it interesting to read too! Let’s get into it.
In the 2018/19 tax year, 76% of my income came from my work at ConvertKit, meaning 24% came from income streams I consider to be side hustles. Last year side hustles only accounted for 17% of my income, so that’s quite a change (an 84% increase to be exact). Thanks to a raise and some good bonuses, my ConvertKit income also increased and was 15% more than the previous year. So overall my income in 2018 was up 27%.
Just as I did last year, I’ve grouped my income into four categories: design, content creation, community and physical products.
As expected, design income makes up the largest chunk of the total (I am a designer after all!) but something I didn't expect was how much my income from creating content increased this year. In my last report, content creation and community income streams were fairly similar. But this year content is the largest category in my side hustle income by far.
I've added the chart above showing how much these income streams differ to last years earnings where you can see just how much the content stream has grown (and how the product category is so small that I had to enlarge that section of the graph just to make it visible!).
Let'd dig into each one of these categories and the type of work they entailed.
Last year I didn't create a chart for my design income as the freelance work I did was such an insignificant amount. This year however I took on a larger freelance project that made up 2% of the design income, with the rest being what I earned from working at ConvertKit.
At ConvertKit we have a profit sharing bonus, where twice a year 52% of the companies profits for that timeframe are shared amongst the team. So my income from ConvertKit includes my base salary as well as the profit sharing. This year I've decided to split that out on a chart so you can see what an impact this generous profit sharing has on my income – it made up 19.4% of the design income category and 14.9% of my total income for the year. I'm excited to see this amount grow over time as we work hard to improve our product and help more creators earn a living through email marketing.
Content creation income
Let's talk about the income category that grew the most in the past year: content creation. My earnings in this category grew by nearly 200% this year!
Like last year, this category includes income earned from video sponsorships, Google Adsense and affiliate links, but I added two new income streams this year too: speaking fees and video licensing.
Here's a look at how these different streams contributed to the category of earnings.
Last year I had six different video sponsors making up the sponsorship category. This year I had only two: my main channel sponsor Webflow (that's an affiliate link FYI), and WD My Passport SSD (whom I appeared in an advertisement for).
I'm so happy to have built such a great relationship with the Webflow team. Not only is it so much less stressful to work with the same sponsor on a regular basis than dealing with multiple contacts at different companies, but they're also a company that fully aligns with my values in their mission and the way that they do business. Their sponsorship means I can afford to hire help with creating my videos, and I don't feel the pressure to entertain every single random sponsorship request that comes by my inbox anymore (they rarely turn out to be a good opportunity, except in the case of the WD Passport collaboration. That was awesome!).
I was surprised to see my Adsense revenue grow as it's been several years now since I last uploaded a new video with YouTube monetisation enabled. But it just means that my older videos that contain preroll ads are still being watched. Seeing this growth is almost enough to make me want to enable monetisation again... almost... but then I remember how disappointed I was the time I saw a 99 designs ad before one of my own videos and I don't regret the decision to stop monetising at all.
I said in my last report that this was an area I wanted to focus on growing, and with a 121% increase from last year this category definitely grew! Not in ways I expected however.
I wanted to put more focus on Amazon affiliate links (as I'd heard from others having great success with that) but it just wasn't something I took action on. My Webflow affiliate income more than doubled however, and I picked up a few new sources of affiliate income too, my favorite of which was when my friend Ran Segall asked if I'd like to be an affiliate for his online course. I sent an email to my list and a few people purchased the course through my link. (Thanks for making me an affiliate Ran!)
New content creation income streams
This year I was paid to speak at some events: Blogtacular and HOW Design Live. While these speakers fees only made up a tiny 0.68% of my total income for the year, it's probably the income I'm most proud of. I'd love to grow this revenue stream in future, because I adore speaking at events and seeing something "click" for someone in the audience. It's very rewarding!
The other new income stream this year was a total surprise to me: video licensing. I had the California tourism board contact me asking if they could use footage from a vlog in one of their campaigns, and a Chinese company who licenses YouTube educational videos to play on a platform in China (where YouTube isn't accessible). I said yes to both as they paid me a licensing fee for the videos in question. Why not!?
Last year, community income made up the largest piece of my side hustle pie. This year, as you saw already, it was far eclipsed by content income because my community earnings stayed relatively flat overall. My Patreon grew a little, and the Design Life community shrank a little (so my half of the earnings shrank too, naturally). I'm so appreciative for both streams though as to have monthly support from people is so wonderful, and the podcast one in particular allows us to pay for website and episode hosting fees so that we're able to break even on that little side project. Thank you to everyone who is a part of it!
This was the smallest slice of my income last year and this year it got even smaller, shrinking by 55%.
I sold a couple of t-shirts and art prints before I closed down LNK (my t-shirt business), and we didn't release any new Design Life products in the 2018/19 tax year so the income you see on this chart is from a couple of previously-released sticker packs people bought.
Last year I was sad to see my product income be such a small piece of my overall earnings but this year: I don't care so much! The decision to close my t-shirt business down was difficult, but has felt so freeing (I wrote about it here). I've had more fun working on physical products with Femke for Design Life (we released a cute pin recently which you can check out in our store here). We barely break even on these product projects, but they're a blast to work on together and to create something in the physical world to represent our show. Next years product income will likely be solely made up of Design Life items as I have no plans currently for any more products of my own.
I hope it was interesting for you to see where my income came from this year. The data nerd in me is already looking forward to next year, when I'll be able to plot three years of earnings on a graph. How fun! And is it too early to make predictions on what changes we'll see in my income next year?